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Survivor Obsession (We Continue #6)
Sun Sep 9, 2018 15:47
2601:982:8201:63b8:a873:a5b8:61cd:b28b

A note for you guys;

Remember these pieces were written for a motorist's site, so references to things like "this site" and other such obliquenesses really refer to them. I figured you would savour the flavour of what we talk of more if I left the pieces as original, hence the occasional reminder these are meant to be a glimpse into that world.

You might "google" a Mazda Miata; you'll recognise the little bastard as soon as you see a photo. A little short history, its the result of the Japanese and the Americans making a perfected style-copy of a first generation Lotus Elan. They succeeded, so much so its perfection is its downfall. It is truly lifeless in its clinical-ness. The Elan was a brilliant and brilliantly flawed car which I love like I love an Alfa, and it was a machine you could love, albeit tumultuously.

Anyway, let's press on:

Great and Not So Great Cars in my Life #2; The Most Over-rated Car in the World?



I don't know what the motoring press is banging on about, but I just don't see what is so great about the MX5 (Miata to the Americans). There are some real fans on this site, so I expect a lot of tribalism on this one, but I've driven many of them, purposely rented them to try and fall in love, but I cannot see what the propaganda is all about.

I say "propaganda" because even Top Gear (the organisation) changed their tune radically, calling the first mark (arguably the best one) a "hairdressers receptionist's car", then suddenly they (and entire motoring press) did a right-about turn and have been calling the MX5 the best roadster ever made from then on. I've driven every mark, trying desperately to understand the sudden volte-face, and I just don't.

Even as a car to be seen in rather than driven, they are too cute. That face (from the second mark on without the flip-headlights) just begs for those stupid eyelashes girls put on the headlights of their city-cars. Every time I see that face it reminds me of a couple characters in Pixar's "Cars", and there was something vaguely annoying about them, too.

A Spit or an Alfa Spider are voluptuous. A Midget is eager. An E-type or a C3 Corvette have the menace of a shark about them. The first three examples are roadsters that are good drives and the last two, however vile to drive, are cars to be seen in. Those are the two purposes to have a roadster.

Taking the second reason first, an MX5 is an embarrassment to be "seen in". Nothing says "poser" like an old guy (defined as "my age" ) in a flatcap driving one. You just can't pull it off, because it isn't a Frogeye. No thinking man should wear a flatcap in an open two-seater any more modern than a Morgan or a T-series, and a Frogeye is actually pushing it. By the way, with sports cars, old guy plus new car equals midlife crisis. That goes double for a red one. Triple if you add the new freshly restored girlfriend in the passenger seat with her arms held straight up in the air (what's with that anyway?)

The propagandic flip of the motoring press and the cutesy berk-sy looks are really superficial though. Here are the real issues. The first mark, at 2100lbs, is already about two girlfriends and a St. Bernard too heavy to start with, and the succeeding versions got fatter from there, up to close to 2600. Even the latest, touted as having gotten lightened, still weighs in at over 2300lbs. For perspective, a Spit or a Midget hits the forecourt at some 1700lbs kerb weight.

A lot of that weight is inclusiveness. Power steering, power braking, a choice between an automatic (in a roadster? Really?) paddleshifter gearbox and a truly dreadful six-speed fuss-box. A good tall five-speed would have been so much nicer but, hey, six is more than five. I have the same complaint about BMW Minis too, by the way.

Back to complexity and useless weight as standard, we get power mirrors, A/c (in a roadster with a hood that comes off! Did I really need to comment?) power windows with demisters, power locks, cruise control (!), and the "audio and infotainment" section of the spec is just insane. A 7" touchscreen and the dam thing even sends texts. It's a sportscar? No. Its a roadster body dropped on to a standard millennial's techno-platform. Change the body and throw in a baby-seat and its a Mazda 3.

Whatever happened to "simplicate and add lightness"? Now it's "complicate and add features" so anyone can pretend. That's fine, just don't ask me to be satisfied with the result. The power steering and power brakes mean no road feel through wheel or foot, ABS when trying to flick the car in gravel is just a pain in the arse; every one I've ever driven has had me frustrated and annoyed by the time I park it; just like any modern car it tells me how to drive it. Arrgh!

However, what really makes up for all the sins is how it drives. The answer is, its nice. It is excellent as a form of dependable transport. Its safe, docile, and easy. Its also uninspiring and numb and boring. It pretends to be a sports car and I don't get the fizz when I drive it. In a car to be driven for driving's sake, boring is the ultimate crime.

Guilty as charged.

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